How Philadelphia is fighting homelessness as the weather gets warmer

- It’s going to be a beautiful weekend in the city of Philadelphia. Some residents and tourists may spend their days shopping in Rittenhouse Square.

As you walk down Walnut Street, you’ll undoubtedly see almost every corner occupied by a homeless person.

Have you ever wondered who these people are? How did they end up there? What can be done to help them?

This week, FOX 29’s Mike Jerrick met with Marsha Cohen, the executive director of the Homeless Advocacy Project, and took a walk down Walnut Street.

Mike spoke with some of the people who were living on the street and asked them their stories. Some told him they were simply poor, while another man told him he had served jail time for murder and ended up on the streets after his release.

The director of Philadelphia’s Office of Homeless Services, Liz Hersh, stopped by Good Day Philadelphia on Friday morning to shed some light on what’s being done to fight homelessness in the City of Brotherly Love.

Hersh explained that the city has street outreach and housing to help those in need and to get them off the streets, but the biggest problem right now is the size of the issue.

“It’s a bigger problem than we have a system to solve it. We just don’t have enough to go around,” Hersh said.

In 2016, the number of homeless people in Philadelphia was 12,856. In 2017 that number went up to 13,737.

As for reporting homelessness, Hersh says if there is a crime you should call 911. If you’re concerned about someone’s well-being, then you’re asked to call homeless outreach at (215) 232-1984. The city has a team of workers that will respond and offer assistance to that person.

Hersh says the opioid epidemic is only adding to the problem, and the reaction to helping those people is quite different.

You can watch more in the video above.

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